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Wisconsin Roundup: NorthStar, StartingBlock Madison, 5Nines & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Here are some of the past week’s major headlines from Wisconsin’s tech and innovation community:

—Madison-based NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes has partnered with Westinghouse Electric to explore producing medical radioisotopes in commercial nuclear reactors, according to a press release issued by Westinghouse. The two companies aim to address the global shortage of molybdenum-99—which is used to make technetium-99m, the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging—without using weapons-grade highly enriched uranium. Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse’s technology is used in approximately half of operating nuclear plants around the world.

—StartingBlock Madison, an entrepreneurial center that would be located within a proposed $69 million building project east of downtown, has added to its list of expected tenants, said executive director Scott Resnick. The newly announced companies are: Abodo, an apartment-finding service; Beekeeper, which helps non-technical people navigate complex datasets; GrocerKey, a supermarket delivery service; MobileIgniter, which makes “Internet of Things” apps; PerBlue, a mobile game developer; and WeightUp, which makes smart wristbands for working out. All except PerBlue are graduates of Wisconsin startup accelerator Gener8tor—which also plans to move into StartingBlock—or Gbeta, Gener8tor’s new, faster-track program.

Google Express, the tech giant’s next-day delivery program, has come to the Midwest and is now available in Milwaukee, Madison, and most of Southern Wisconsin. Users can order from 16 stores, including Walgreens, Costco (NASDAQ: COST), and department store chain Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS). Nonmembers pay $4.99 per delivery while members pay a $95 annual fee and can make unlimited orders worth at least $15 apiece; both groups face a surcharge for smaller orders.

—5Nines, a Madison-based Internet service provider and technology company, has built a 4G wireless network and is allowing businesses, non-profits, and community centers to connect for free after purchasing the necessary hardware. The network, concentrated in Madison’s downtown for now, currently consists of two rooftop antennas but the company plans to finish installing three more by the end of October. 5Nines also submitted a joint bid with Reno, NV-based Red Rover and Huawei Enterprise, of Cupertino, CA, to build a 4G LTE network in Madison as part of the city’s effort to address the digital divide, said 5Nines vice president of data center and network services Anton Kapela.

—The Greater Milwaukee Committee announced in a press release it will select 10 students attending colleges in Southeastern Wisconsin to participate in “Destination Innovation,” a new travel and networking program. The organization is partnering with Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) and Kohl’s on the program, in which participants fly from Milwaukee to San Francisco Sept. 29 and, at 35,000 feet, work with mentors to solve a business challenge. Once their plane touches down, students will tour the campus of Santa Clara University and a Kohl’s facility in Milpitas, CA, before returning home the next day.